March is brain injury awareness month
Did you know that mTBI is often referred to as a “silent epidemic”?
It’s profoundly misunderstood, even inside the medical field. Here are a few things I’ve learned as I’ve been engulfed in traumatic brain injury world.
- Brain injuries are like fingerprints-the same but different.
There’s something to be said about how diverse the brain is. It would depend on what part of the brain was affected. Most TBI’s have a combination of the inability to focus, speech difficulty, problems with memory-short or long term-, difficulty walking, slurred speech, and balance issues. I know every TBI is different, but the first time I went to my TBI support group, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my difficulty with my brain. There were certain things that people would say that I thought, “Me too! I thought I was just weird for doing that or thinking that!”.
- We have good days and bad days, just like everyone else.
We have good brain days and bad brain days. Often, but not exclusively, bad brain days happen when there are certain factors present, like fatigue, dehydration, high blood sugar, overstimulation, and low blood sugar. It often takes a lot longer to recoup after one of these events. I’m often surprised that I can do one thing one day and the next day I struggle with the very same thing. There is a lot of factors that play into my wellbeing and if even one of those factors is a smidgen off, it will affect the whole event. I’ve learned to take advantage of good days and give myself (and others lol) grace on bad days. I also have to listen to my body because it often will tell me what it needs.
- We are not our disability. We are individuals who have a TBI, but it doesn’t define us.
This took me the longest time to realize. I felt like I needed to explain why I was so different-weird if we are being honest. Now, I’m better able understand that yes, I have a TBI, but I’m so much more than that. I get overwhelmed, hangry, unfocused and at times, irritable, but I’ve learned how to manage it while not always blaming my TBI. Everything I go through is affected by my TBI, but not solely because of my TBI. Some of it is just because I’m a 20 something trying to figure out how this whole adulting thing works.
- We are still trying to figure ourselves out-even if our injury happened decades ago.
When I first went to my support group, I was amazed by how many people there were whose injury had occurred over 15 years ago. They are still figuring out the new person that their injury made them to be. It’s not a simple fix but a lifetime process of discovering who they are. Recovery, then, is a mental switch from constantly looking back to constantly looking forward to the adventure their TBI journey will take them-the good and the bad.
- TBI survivors are literally some of the strongest people you’ll ever meet because they have overcome and are overcoming something that was meant to destroy them.